Five Books for the Summer

Summer did arrive in the Peak District for around a week. It’s now beaten a hasty retreat and I’m left with long dandelion-infested grass and a soggy vegetable patch. All is not lost if you like reading, however. I’ve read some great books recently, a mixture of crime and other genres and they’d be perfect books for your summer holidays wherever you’re lucky enough to go away or if, like me, you’re staying put.

Here are my summer reading recommendations.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes is a selection of newspaper articles, blog posts and previously unpublished material that contain the essence of Keyes’s effervesce. She has a joyful outlook on life and whether she’s talking about Strictly Come Dancing, boots that make her look like Bono or therapies she has tried, it’s all done with a lightness of touch and very good writing. It’s a book both to dip into and to read from cover to cover.

9781910124970Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutscher is set in late Twenties Berlin and we see the city in all its seedy splendour. We’re immersed in drug dealing, prostitution and gun-running through the work of the Vice Squad and, in particular, DI Gereon Rath. It’s soon to be made into a TV series and it’s the evocation of a fascinating period that stands out in this novel translated by Niall Sellar.

29292832._UY200_The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is a modern take on a locked room mystery.  Lo Blackwood is on cruise ship as part of a trip arranged for travel journalists. She witnesses a body being thrown overboard but records show the room was unoccupied. Lo is trapped at sea with a murderer responsible for a crime no-one believes has been committed. The book is satisfyingly claustrophobic and moves and a cracking pace.

Tastes-like-fear-jacketTastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary is the third book in her excellent series featuring DI Marnie Rome. The novel opens with a teenage girl causing a fatal car crash and then disappearing.  Rome and her partner, Noah, investigate a complex case with a frightening nemesis. As we’ve come to expect from Hilary, the book is very well written with a strong cast of supporting characters.

28001923The Saddest Sound by Deborah Delano is that rare beast, a genuinely original crime novel. The presence of a misogynist serial killer in a northern town is seen through the eyes of radfem characters including a feminist academic and lesbian prostitutes. Never stereotypes, Delano uses her characters to highlight violence against woman and feminist reactions to it,

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Review: Sarah Hilary – Someone Else’s Skin

imageThe misery of domestic violence has occasionally been depicted in crime fiction but it’s a subject that’s difficult to read about. There’s enough violence, intimidation and hatred in the situation that victims find themselves in without adding a murder investigation into the mix. But Sarah Hilary has done very well to do just that; set a killing in a home for victims of domestic violence without it seeming gratuitous or exploitative.

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is in charge of an investigation to discover why a man has been wounded in a women’s refuge. Although it initially looks like a case of lackadaisical security in a place for those looking to escape violence in the home, Marnie soon discovers more complex relationships exploiting the stresses of vulnerable people.

This is a difficult book to review as to go into the plot in any depth would give away too many spoilers. There are a number of twists and turns, one of which I saw coming, which in no way spoilt my enjoyment of the book. There narrative is multi-layered and, like the best crime novels, the lines between victim and villain are often unclear.

This is a debut novel for Sarah Hilary and the first in a series featuring Marnie Rome. She has managed to give us something new with her detective inspector. Marnie has her own secrets which she partially gives up towards the end of the novel. I suspect there are more to come.

Thanks to Headline for my review copy.